SKOWHEGAN — Selectmen want to make sure the town’s social and community service organizations follow the rules for funding requests for next year.

If the don’t, they face the possibility of not getting the money they want.

A letter to the groups dated July 27 says the organizations must file a petition for funding or the amount that will appear on the annual town meeting warrant will be determined by the Board of Selectmen, not them.

The petition must have a minimum of 334 signatures and applicants must answer 11 questions on an enclosed questionnaire.

The deadline for petitions for fiscal 2012-13 is Dec. 2. Any requests received after that date will not be considered for inclusion on the warrant for the annual town meeting next June.

Selectmen voted 4-1 to send the letter, with Selectwoman Betty Austin the lone dissenter.

Austin said she disagreed with five of the 11 questions to be answered by the various organizations, which include Spectrum Generations, the public library, the Chamber of Commerce and the Family Violence project. There are 10 organization in all.

The questions objected to by Austin include asking if the organizations gave pay raises or bonuses to employees, if the organizations does its own fundraising and what other towns benefit from their work.

“It’s none of our business how much they paid their employees,” Austin said. “What matters is what benefits they give to Skowhegan.”

Town Manager John Doucette Jr. said the town is not requiring petitions to be submitted, but the only way for an organization to be guaranteed that the amount they are requesting is on the town meeting warrant is with a petition.

Doucette said the move was prompted by a miscommunication with some of the organizations last year. The deadline for petitions expired last December, with none of the organizations filing a petition.

In January selectmen agreed to waive the petition requirement because of the perceived miscommunication.

They said it would be the last time the requirement would be waived.

In previous years, selectmen allowed the specific funding requests to be on the town warrant without a petition.

“They have to address the article on the petition exactly how they want it worded on the warrant for the town meeting,” Doucette said Friday. “Signatures must be from registered voters of the town of Skowhegan. The difference is now that both social services and community services have to do a petition in order to get what they want.”

Doucette said the best example is the Skowhegan Free Public Library, which requested more than $97,000 at this year’s town meeting, while selectmen and the budget committee proposed $50,000. The library received the requested $97,000 at town meeting, even without a petition.

Next year, he said, without a petition, the library’s request will not appear on the town meeting warrant and whatever the selectmen determine is the most money to be received will be what residents will vote on.

Funding amounts listed in town meeting articles can be lowered by a vote, but not increased.

“Their request will not be addressed,” he said. “It won’t be put onto the warrant if they don’t have a petition.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

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